*The following story is based on actual events*
Just a short walk from the highway by Jangsa Beach, the house lurked at the base of the hill. To its right, a pavilion lay in ruin, collapsed roof and pillars leaning amid the rubble. On its left, a shop boasted graffiti in bloody red; the Hangeul for ‘devil’ and ‘ghost’ looked hastily scrawled. The house itself lurked between the two structures, squat and brooding; its inside was dark.
“You think it’s really haunted?” my sister asked.
“Naw,” I said, “just a spot for teenagers to come and freak themselves out.”
She nodded, “Let’s check it out.”
The door was open, hanging from its hinges as if it’d been kicked out from the inside. The windows to either side had been smashed; the broken glass crackled underfoot. “Punk kids,” I muttered.
I spun as the door flopped crazily back and forth. Alisha grinned at me mischievously. “What’s wrong with you?!” I shouted.
“Gotcha,” she laughed as she walked inside.
The entry was strewn with rubble and trash. Broken bottles of soju, a filthy beanie, a chair with the seat ripped out. Footprints were visible on the floor, evidence of previous visitors. The knot in my belly eased a bit, but I couldn’t resist a glance out the door.
“Looks like another two hours or so of daylight.”
“Scared?” her tone was mocking.
“I’m just sayin’.”
“I’m going to check this room out, go to the one over there,” she pointed with a jerk of her chin.
I started to protest, but she cut me off. “I want to say I explored this place by myself.”
“Alright, fine.” I was done arguing with her at that point. Let her have her fun. She’d just arrived in the country a few days before.
I stepped into the room as she headed to the other end of the house. More broken glass sparkled on the floor, rays of sunlight played off jagged edges. In the corner, a pair of battered wardrobes hunched with doors flung wide–poorly folded bedding spilled out like intestines.
Stop that. I shook myself. Sometimes my imagination could go overboard.
I panned my gaze around the room. Rolled up mats in the corner, a broken mug on the floor, a mirror…
…the face was staring with empty eyes, mouth gaping as the jaw distended horribly…
I reeled back in horror.
The sound split the silence and I screamed.
“You all right down there?” my sister’s voice floated down. She must be upstairs.
I looked down at the broken plate under my shoe. Then, dreading what I might see, I looked at the mirror again. There was a patch of dust on the surface, the shape similar to the face I had seen. Maybe…
…no, it had been too real. It couldn’t have been my imagination.
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. “Hey, come look at this!” Alisha’s voice was fainter than before.
I grumbled a curse and headed towards the stairs. What might’ve been a carpet lay crumpled and filthy at the base; the stairs were bare save for a thick layer of dust. I set a foot on the first step.
“What is it?” I called up.
“C’mon Alisha, what is it?”
I walked up the first flight of steps, they creaked and cracked as I put my weight on them. A window covered with a filthy sheet of plastic let in the sunlight, the wind outside made it bulge in and out. Like a plastic bag tied around someone’s head…
I growled in irritation and clambered up the second flight of stairs.
“This isn’t funny!”
I walked into the hall, checking the first room. Empty.
I checked the second room. Empty.
Suddenly, I sensed movement behind me. I spun, just as something dashed past the window.
“Ha, you’re freaking hilarious today.” I stepped outside and found myself on an empty veranda.
The sound of something dragging broke the silence behind me. I darted into the house.
Something struck the plastic over the window and I spun in fright. There, silhouetted against the light of the evening sun: a hand with fingers pressing, straining to get in.
I stumbled back, losing my footing on the rubble and falling. My head struck the wall; then, darkness.
* * *
I woke to the sound of ripping.
I blinked in confusion. Why was it dark out? “Alisha?”
There was no response.
Then, I saw them.
Barely visible in the gloom, tendrils of wallpaper ripped slowly from the wall. Each piece wriggled and spasmed like a worm over a fire.
I crawled backwards in horror as the ripping grew in intensity–louder, louder, LOUDER.
The strips reached the floor, scratching and clawing as they made their way closer. The wall behind rippled and bulged as something tried to push through.
The sound swelled–a bloated, agonized thing. I scrambled to my feet and fled. A flash of lightning lit the veranda; rain poured down in a deluge.
I turned towards the stairs and screamed.
A flash of light–her face, screaming–the after-image burned in my retinas as darkness returned. A horrible banging sound tumbled down the stairwell.
“ALISHA!!” I screamed, running after the sound.
I reached the bottom and stumbled to a stop. “Alisha?” I could hear the terror in my voice.
She stared at me blankly, no sign of recognition on her face. Behind her, through her, the door banged drunkenly on its hinges as the storm raged outside. Slowly, so slowly, her head tipped to the side.
Then, it snapped back and some unseen thing dragged her into the storm. The remnant of a scream lingered before the roar of thunder drowned it out.
I found myself in the courtyard, sprinting around the back as grass writhed and thrashed around me like a sea of serpents.
Horror welled, there were tracks; something had been dragged around the corner of the house.
No, no, please no…
There, the entrance to the cellar. An old couch rotted on the stairs leading down.
The tracks led inside.
I pulled out my flashlight and switched it on. The beam danced and shook as fright consumed me.
I crept down the steps.
Drip, drip, drip.
The cellar was flooded from the storm. Maybe a few inches of water.
Drip, drip, BOOM! Thunder echoed and I jolted in fright.
I flashed the light around the room, but in vain. The cellar was empty.
“Please…” I whispered, bowing my head in despair.
There was a flash of lightning. In the water, I saw her face. Her eyes were open, staring, terrified. Beneath her, a tangle of ghastly, pale arms groped from the depths.
Thunder crashed. The rotting couch in the entrance jerked upright and slammed down over the entrance. The flashlight fell from my hand.
In the oily darkness, I screamed as icy fingers locked around my ankles.
From the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal, take the bus to Jangsa Haesuyokjang (장사 해수욕장). When you get off the bus, head down to the beach and walk under the highway via the tunnel. Turn left and walk along the highway until the road turns a corner. On your right, you will see signs for the Dalnim Pension (달님펜션). The next driveway leads up the hill to the haunted house.
You have been warned…